John F. Kennedy High School in Villeray has much to be proud of, as this academic year closes out. On May 25, it was awarded Best Screenplay from the Youth Fusion Cinema Competition for its film reflection, along with nominations for Best Cinematography and Best Film. It finished in the top five among 19 high schools mainly across Quebec but also Ontario and New Brunswick.
The film portrays Patricia, a star student praised by her teachers but also bullied by her peers. Suffering from depression and questioning the use of therapy, we watch as she struggles with self-doubt and negative self-talk emanating from her de ella “reflection de ella.” She makes the rash decision to quit therapy. As the plot unfolds, the viewer wonders whether she will succumb to the negative voice or keep the voice at bay and get the help she needs.
Eight students from grades 8, 10 and 11 and one teacher star in the almost four-minute-long film. They come from the film class led by, multimedia and drama teacher, Steve Muoio, who also runs the weekly after-school Film Club. Students also filled the roles of assistant director, script writers, camera operators, sound and lighting technicians, and editors. A Youth Fusions coordinator also worked with the production team.
Mr. Muoio has been entering projects in the film competition for the last eight years. JFK High School has won an award every year, he said. I have explained that the students always come up with the concept for the films they create. The theme for this year’s competition was “awakening.”
“A lot of ideas were tossed around but most of the students focused on troubled characters with various mental health issues,” said Mr. Muoio. “I felt that this is an important breakthrough in the creative process. This is what they wanted to talk about. Breaking the stigma of mental health is something that is a problem for teenagers. They struggle with depression and anxiety and often keep it to themselves. It was very important to the students who wrote the script that they help others realize that they are not alone in the struggle and that it is okay to ask for help. It’s that kind of spirit that we try to encourage here at JFK. We are a small school with a big heart. We are like a family, and we want the student population to know that they can come to us for whatever they need.”
Of reflections, the jury said, “In our opinion, you had one of the best films in all categories this year. Both the technical and creative level were excellent. congratulations for the photography, the sound design, the editing and, not to mention, the acting that made the story you told us, so accurate. Splendid work!”
John F. Kennedy High School offers a detailed multimedia program and boasts Mac labs, state-of-the-art cameras, camcorders and other equipment that closely match technology used in the professional film industry.
To watch reflections:
About the English Montreal School Board
With a youth and adult sector population of more than 35,000 students, the English Montreal School Board (EMSB) is the largest English public school board in Quebec. Established on July 1, 1998, when the province created new boards along linguistic lines, the EMSB network consists of 77 schools and centres. For more details, visit the EMSB website at www.emsb.qc.ca.